Traumatic brain injury (TBI) afflicts people of all ages and genders, and the severity of injury ranges from concussion/mild TBI to severe TBI. Across all spectrums, TBI has wide-ranging, and variable symptomology and outcomes. Treatment options are lacking for the early neuropathology associated with TBIs and for the chronic neuropathological and neurobehavioral deficits. Inflammation and neuroinflammation appear to be major mediators of TBI outcomes. These systems are being intensively studies using animal models and human translational studies, in the hopes of understanding the mechanisms of TBI, and developing therapeutic strategies to improve the outcomes of the millions of people impacted by TBIs each year. This manuscript provides an overview of the epidemiology and outcomes of TBI, and presents data obtained from animal and human studies focusing on an inflammatory and immunological context. Such a context is timely, as recent studies blur the traditional understanding of an “immune-privileged” central nervous system. In presenting the evidence for specific, adaptive immune response after TBI, it is hoped that future studies will be interpreted using a broader perspective that includes the contributions of the peripheral immune system, to central nervous system disorders, notably TBI and post-traumatic syndromes.
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